Everyone thinks travel is really, really expensive. The shocking truth is… it depends. Travel can be really expensive, if you stay in luxury hotels in expensive countries and only eat gourmet food. It can also be really cheap, if you stash yourself away on a cargo ship, sleep in rooms full of cockroaches with twenty other people and subsist solely on food you’ve foraged yourself. Or, you know, somewhere between these two extremes.
To be clear, travel is not, fundamentally, cheap. It remains a luxury good. To travel at all is a privilege given there are so many people in the world who, from a combination of money and health and circumstance, will never be able to see the world. That being said, it can be cheaper than people think. It is possible to see a new place without breaking the bank.
I also think it can be helpful to see what trips abroad actually cost other people. People can be very secretive about finances, and I’m a proponent of (sensitively and productively) discussing the financial realities of travel.
My final post about our trip to Lithuania is a budget breakdown. Would you believe that a short trip to a whole new place 1300 miles away could only cost £130 in total? That includes not just the big stuff like flights and accommodation but every dumpling, pancake and cup of coffee we bought (because my stomach rules my wallet, apparently.)
All the prices are my individual share. Three of us went on this trip and we split all expenses evenly. The currency in Lithuania is the Euro.
Flights – £40
My great love, Skyscanner. This whole trip was born from these cheap flights. Finding great weekend flight deals that fit with your work schedule and fly into and out of convenient airports is an art but these fit all the criteria. This is less than you’d pay for brunch in London and you can get to a different country over a thousand miles away. Mad.
Accommodation – £17
The benefits of unusual places! This was the total for two nights. Admittedly, this was split between three people, but if you’d been there alone it would have been £25, which is still extremely reasonable. This was a small but lovely rustic flat, right next to the Gates of Dawn, the entrance to the old town. This Airbnb was a great find.
Transport – £23
This number is deceptively high. £20 of this total was money spent getting to and from Luton Airport. People often forget to include airport transfer costs in their budgeting and when we’re heading to a cheap place, this is often the most expensive transport of the whole trip. (Tip: if you’re travelling from West Hampstead to Luton, you need to buy a separate ticket, you cannot tap in, even though there are oyster card tap-in points and you’re coming from the tube. I’ve been burned by this before and it carries a hefty fine.)
Once we were in Lithuania, our individual share of the two Ubers we took to and from the airport numbered an overwhelming £3. Getting around is cheap, and cheaper still if you walk everywhere like we did the rest of the time.
Food – £41
For six meals and numerous baked snacks, this is very affordable. One piece of advice – if you want to eat a specific type of food (we were looking for local restaurants) don’t wait until you’re ready to rip each other’s throats out with hunger as we so gracefully did. When you’re in an unfamiliar place without having done prior research and you don’t want to eat overpriced tourist food, you need to start thinking about your next meal about an hour before you get hungry. As someone whose aggressive hanger is infamous, you’d think I’d have learned to plan ahead. I’m saving that particular personal growth for my thirties.
Most of this was delicious goulash, dumplings and pastries, and one overpriced pizza that we settled on as result of being too hungry to walk one step further without snapping at each other.
Activities – £7
I actually laughed when I tallied this up. This was for entry to the bell tower (£2.70), the palace (£0.90) and the Museum of Genocide Victims (£3). Everything else we did, primarily wandering around, having a snowball fight and exploring Užupis, was free. This may well have been the off-season (and I can’t remember if we voted no to more expensive activities or not, plus I think the palace was discounted because half of it was a building site) but regardless, it’s not expensive.
Total – £128
That’s it. A trip away exploring a new place for only £128. As I said at the start of this post, cost is always relative and to have any disposable income to put toward travel is a huge privilege. However, if you do love to travel and you can make the money work, there may be an adventure in Eastern Europe waiting for you!
This is my last post about Lithuania! I’m currently in Prague so getting to re-live the potato dumpling and dough-based dessert dreams. Look forward to a post dedicated to Prague’s best cinnamon sugar-coated cream-filled pastry, Trdelnik.